Despite Superintendent Uncertainty, “Business As Usual” at Anchorage Schools
As Browder interviews in Iowa, Anchorage School Board plans a meeting Thursday
ANCHORAGE - Anchorage School Superintendent Dr. Jim Browder was in Iowa Wednesday, meeting with the Des Moines School Board to convince them he's the right man to run Des Moines' schools.
But Browder already has a job—as superintendent of Anchorage Public Schools. It’s a job he’s held for only eight months, and one he seemed committed to until recently.
“[Browder] has told us and the community that it’s his intention to move closer to his family for family reasons, and we take him at his word on that,” Anchorage School Board President Jeannie Mackie said.
Mackie said Wednesday that the board first learned about Browder’s situation a month ago, but didn’t know until last Friday that he had become one of three finalists for the Iowa job. The application deadline for the Des Moines position was February 11.
Now the school board is trying to figure out what it will mean for Browder and the district. The first step will be a meeting with Browder Thursday, March 14.
“We'll just sit down with Dr. Browder, [and talk about] how we'll move forward,” Mackie said. “We don't know if he'll be successful in getting the job that he's applying for currently, and so we need to sit down with him and discuss the best thing we can do for our district at this point.”
Browder’s path to Anchorage was an expensive one, the result of a nationwide candidate search that, by the time travel costs were calculated, cost the school district nearly $54,000. That included $34,000 for a candidate search consultation firm, and $17,000 for travel expenses.
Mackie said it’s too early for the board to think about initiating that process again, or whether an early departure by Browder would result in any reimbursements for moving and relocation funds for the district. Browder’s contract, which is available online, states that if the superintendent "issues a notice of termination" within the first year, he's be required “to repay ASD all of his moving and relocation expenses.”
Until the board knows what the future holds, Mackie said it's business as usual at Anchorage schools.
“He is under contractual obligation with the school district, his contract is not over at this point, and so we fully expect when he returns here, when he returns from out of town, that he will continue to lead the school district,” she said. “He is our superintendent until further notice.”